The remains of a Florida teen who disappeared over 40 years have been positively identified as Theresa Caroline Fillingim, officials said.
According to NBC 2, Margaret Johns said that the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the death of her sister, Theresa, who disappeared from her Tampa-area home in 1980. Police said the teen’s remains were found in Billy Mansfield Jr.’s home. Mansfield Jr. is a serial killer responsible for murdering at least five women in California and Florida.
In 1982, Mansfield Jr. was sentenced to life in a California prison, where he remains today.
Investigators said they found four women buried at the suspect’s home in the Weeki Wachee Acres neighborhood in 1981, but they were only able to positively identify two of the victims, until this month.
With the help of the University of North Texas and the Virginia-based DNA company, Parabon Nano Labs, officials were able to positively identify Theresa through a DNA match with her sister.
Theresa was almost 17 when she disappeared. She was living with Johns at the time. Johns, who reported her sister missing, said it “floored” her to learn the news, but she’s glad to have closure, Fox 13 reports.
“It just kind of came out of the blue and, to put it lightly, it floored me,” Johns said. “Pretty good closure. I’m just a little sad that, you know, my dad died without ever knowing what happened to her. My mother died without ever knowing what happened to her.”
Meanwhile, Mansfield Jr. is scheduled for a parole hearing this year. Johns, who lives in Cape Coral, Florida, said she would fly to California and testify if it means he’ll stay in prison, WINK News reports.
“She’s just a young kid that knew nothing, that got taken advantage of by a predator. And if I can prevent somebody else from falling prey to somebody like that, I accomplished something.”
Check back for updates.
For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast. Listen to the latest episode below.
[Featured image Family Handout]